Health authorities concerned on upsurge of COVID-19 patients

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 00:33 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Possibility of new variant being studied, results expected by end of the week
  • Chief Epidemiologist suggests movement restrictions if situation arises
  • PHI Union President warns of third wave if situation not controlled 
  • CMC Chief Medical Officer says 8% increase in patients detected from Colombo city
  • 367 persons test positive for COVID-19 yesterday
  • 3,305 COVID-19 patients under medical care
  • A total of 93,547 persons recovered from COVID-19 to date

By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

Health authorities warned of a third wave, as an increase in patients is seen across the island and studies are currently being carried out to determine the possibility of a new variant of the virus.

State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production, Supply and Regulation Prof. Channa Jayasumana yesterday stated that in addition to an increase in daily COVID-19 patients, it has also been observed that young persons are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and that more persons require intensive care due to COVID-19.

“We now suspect a new variant is causing this. Prof. Neelika Malavige is at present carrying out studies on this and we believe the results will be available by the end of the week,” he said.

Prof. Malavige has played a key role in the detection of COVID-19 variants in the country and is attached to the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences of the Sri Jayewardenepura University.

Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera said the increase in COVID-19 patients is a situation that must be carefully dealt with. “Despite a drop in the spread of COVID-19 in the past few days, we are now seeing a gradual increase in detections. This situation in one we must focus on with care,” he said.

“With the gradual spread of the disease, large clusters can form unknown to us and this is an extremely dangerous situation,” he said. 

Dr. Samaraweera also said that movement restrictions may have to be imposed if such a situation does arise.

A total of 367 persons tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday and health authorities are concerned about the increase in the number of COVID-19 patients detected in the island following the Sinhala and Tamil New year celebrations last week.

Given the increase in patients detected in the last few days, Public Health Officers Union (PHI Union) President Upul Rohana warned of a third wave if the situation is not controlled.

“Patients are being detected from various parts of the island in an unexpected manner and sub-clusters are emerging, especially from the North Western Province, Kurunegala District, and certain areas of the Western Province, Northern Province and Eastern Province as well as the Monaragala District,” he said.

According to Piliyandala Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Dr. Indika Ellawala, 31 COVID-19 patients were detected from the area after 130 PCR tests were performed. The individuals were from Arawwala, Ranmaldeniya, Gorakapitiya, and Bokundara.

“These patients were detected from family members of individuals directed for quarantine after being identified as close contacts of already detected patients. All arrangements have been made to send these patients to treatment centres within the day,” he said.

In addition to this, an individual from Pamunuwa tested positive for COVID-19 on 11 April and 16 of the individual’s contacts have tested positive to date. Two stores have been closed in Pamunuwa following the detections.

It was also reported that 35 patients were detected from a State bank in Fort after 300 persons were subjected to testing.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, 30,689 persons from Colombo, 18,769 persons from Gampaha, 6,825 persons from Kalutara, 4,284 persons from Kandy and 3,129 persons from Kurunegala have tested positive for COVID-19 to date.

This includes the 309 patients detected on Monday, of which 67 were from Kurunegala, 62 were from Colombo, and 51 were from Gampaha.

According to Colombo Municipal Council Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, an 8% increase in patients detected through random testing can be seen in Colombo city.

“Prior to Avurudu, if 100 persons were tested in Colombo city, only a patient or two were detected. However, 10 patients from tests carried out on Thursday, 15 patients from tests carried out on Friday, and 18 patients from 225 tests carried out [on Monday] were detected and these were all samples collected at random,” Dr. Wijayamuni went on to say.

He added that 17 patients detected on Monday were from out of Colombo and only one was a resident of Colombo city.

While saying the increase in patients was a cause for concern, he added that the main reason for this was the way in which persons behaved during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Despite guidelines issued by the Director General of Health Services, a failure to adhere to safety guidelines was observed across the island.

Emphasising the role played by the public in preventing the spread of COVID-19, Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Samaraweera said: “It must be stressed over and over again that social distancing, proper facial covering, and hand hygiene is extremely important.”

He added that any individual displaying COVID-19 like symptoms, like a cough, fever, cold, sore throat, chest pains, and breathing difficulties, must immediately stop socialising, seek medical advice and get tested as required.

Since 14 April, 1,852 COVID-19 patients have been detected in the island. This includes the 367 COVID-19 patients detected yesterday, of which 345 were associated of the Peliyagoda COVID-19 cluster.

The Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda and Prisons clusters have increased to 91,979 patients and the Epidemiology Unit states that 3,289 Sri Lankan returnees from abroad, 950 Navy personnel and their contacts, 651 persons linked to the Kandakadu cluster, and 268 foreigners have also tested positive for COVID-19 to date.

The total number of COVID-19 patients detected in the island is 97,472. Of this, 3,305 are currently under medical care. The active patients include 217 persons at the Giriulla Treatment Centre, 127 persons at the Dambadeniya Treatment Centre, and 117 persons at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. Hospitals also have 439 persons suspected of having COVID-19 under observation. According to the Epidemiology Unit, 173 persons were discharged from hospitals yesterday. This includes 17 persons from the Dambadeniya Treatment Centre, 13 persons from the Iranawila Hospital, 13 persons from the Koggala Beach Hotel, and 13 persons from the Kopai Treatment Centre. A total of 93,547 persons have recovered from COVID-19 to date.


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